Best Online Certificate in Accounting Programs
Gain in-depth information about accounting certificates, identify potential career opportunities, and compare the top schools with our ranking of the best online accounting certificates.
Updated June 20, 2022
Our Review Network
BestColleges is committed to delivering content that is objective and accurate. We have built a network of industry professionals across healthcare and education to review our content and ensure we are providing the best information to our readers.
With their first-hand industry experience, our reviewers provide an extra step in our editing process. These experts:
- Suggest changes to inaccurate or misleading information.
- Provide specific, corrective feedback.
- Identify critical information that writers may have missed.
Our growing Review Network currently consists of professionals in fields like business, nursing, social work, and other subject-specific industries; professionals in higher education areas such as college counseling and financial aid; and anti-bias reviewers.
Reviewers typically work full time in their industry profession and review content for BestColleges as a side project. Our reviewers are members of the Red Ventures Education Freelance Review Network and are paid for their contributions.
Certificate programs offer fast, specialized training for learners. An online accounting certificate can launch your career as a bookkeeper, accounting clerk, or financial clerk.
Many top-ranked schools offer online accounting programs. An undergraduate certificate introduces learners to the accounting field and key accounting principles. Certificate programs provide focused accounting training for entry-level roles. After completing a certificate, distance learners can easily transfer into an online accounting degree program.
www.bestcolleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.
Ready to start your journey?
Earning an accounting certificate at the undergraduate level typically takes one year or less. Most certificate programs range from $1,000-$5,000 for in-state students. In comparison, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reports that the average cost of tuition and fees at a public institution was $9,349 in 2019-20. Our ranking introduces the best online certificate in accounting programs to help prospective students find the right fit for their budget, schedule, and career goals.
What Is an Online Certificate in Accounting Program?
Online accounting certificates provide a focused introduction to accounting. Certificate programs take less time than a degree, making them a good option for students curious about accounting or seeking the fastest route to accounting careers. Unlike a certification or license, certificates train learners in a subject. An accounting certificate introduces learners to the field and fundamental accounting principles.
Unlike degree-granting programs, certificate programs do not include general education requirements. Instead, students only take accounting courses. The format provides focused training for accounting careers. With a certificate, graduates work as accounting clerks or bookkeepers. They also transfer into degree-granting programs.
What Can I Expect From an Online Certificate in Accounting Program?
A certificate introduces college students to an academic discipline. Many certificate programs provide career-focused training. Earning an accounting certificate typically takes around one year. Most programs require 12-30 credits.
Learners in an online certificate in accounting program take classes in a virtual classroom environment. These classes may be offered live or through recorded lectures. Some programs offer self-paced options for students who prefer more flexibility. Distance learning programs incorporate interactive elements, group projects, and hands-on assignments to build accounting skills.
Certificate programs offer a focused course of study without general education requirements. At the undergraduate level, accounting certificates may offer a general accounting concentration or a more focused curriculum emphasizing bookkeeping or small business accounting. After completing a certificate, graduates can enter the workforce or transfer into a degree-granting program. Credits earned at an accredited school will often transfer toward a college degree.
What skills will you need to succeed in an accounting certificate program? Self-motivated, organized students often thrive in online accounting programs. Self-paced and asynchronous programs require discipline to complete program requirements. The accounting field also requires attention to detail and strong numerical skills.
Still Looking for the Right Fit? Discover Similar Programs.
Popular Online Accounting Programs
Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.
What Courses Will I Take in an Online Certificate in Accounting Program?
Learners examine core accounting principles, including the procedures to process financial transactions, record accounting information, and analyze financial documents. The course prepares students for more advanced accounting classes.
Bookkeepers and payroll clerks play a central role in a company's operation. This course trains students in payroll accounting, including taxation regulations, processing benefits information, and managing payroll.
In financial statements courses, learners explore how to create and analyze financial documents. The class covers types of statements, foundational auditing principles, and accounting principles.
The course introduces cost accounting concepts like process costing, cost-volume-profit analysis, and budgeting. Students learn about the role of accounting and financial statement analysis in decision-making.
Learners in managerial accounting classes examine the intersection between accounting and decision-making. The course covers economic decision-making, the role of accounting data, and the planning process.
Find the Tools You Need to Get Started on Your Degree
What Are the Admission Requirements for an Online Certificate in Accounting Program?
Colleges set different admission requirements for certificate programs. In general, an online certificate in accounting program will require a high school diploma or the equivalent. Some schools admit students without a high school diploma as part of high school partnership programs.
Prospective students typically fill out an application and provide transcripts showing their high school diploma. Most certificate programs do not require standardized test scores like the ACT or SAT. Applicants may need to provide a personal statement or letters of recommendation.
Certificate programs operate at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Many business schools offer graduate certificates in accounting. These programs require a bachelor's degree for admission.
What Can I Do With an Online Certificate in Accounting Degree?
College-level training in accounting leads to many career opportunities. With a certificate in accounting, professionals work as bookkeepers, accounting clerks, bank tellers, and financial clerks. These careers report median salaries in line with the national average.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for bookkeepers and accounting clerks was $45,560 in 2021. The BLS projects 170,200 openings for bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks every year from 2020-2030.
After completing an accounting certificate, professionals can also increase their earning potential by pursuing a college degree. A bachelor's degree meets the educational requirement for accountant and auditor jobs. This growing field reported a median annual salary of $77,250 in 2021.
An accounting certificate can be the first step into a high-paying career.Learn More About Accounting Careers
Bookkeepers maintain the general ledger for an organization's financial accounts. The general ledger lists financial transactions, debits, and credits. Bookkeepers use financial data to create statements and reports. They may also handle payroll processing, create invoices, and prepare bank deposits. Bookkeepers need a strong attention to detail.
Median Annual Salary: $45,560
Accounting clerks process financial transactions, calculate interest charges, and monitor accounts. They specialize in areas like accounts payable or accounts receivable. With experience, accounting clerks review financial documents for completeness, code financial documents, and balance billing vouchers.
Median Annual Salary: $45,560
Bank tellers process transactions at banks. They deposit cash and checks into accounts, process money orders, and exchange currencies. Bank tellers also help customers by answering questions, ordering bank cards, or preparing savings bonds. Bank tellers benefit from a background in accounting and customer service skills.
Median Annual Salary: $36,310
Financial clerks perform administrative tasks that involve financial transactions and records. They assist customers by carrying out financial transactions, calculating charges, and maintaining financial records. A background in accounting helps financial clerks in billing, payroll, insurance, and loan processing.
Median Annual Salary: $44,760
Administrative assistants perform clerical tasks in office settings. They schedule meetings, file documents, and provide support services. An administrative assistant with a background in accounting might file financial documents, prepare accounting reports, or perform bookkeeping services. Administrative assistants also specialize in areas like healthcare and law.
Median Annual Salary: $39,680
Accounting Not For You? Check Out These Related Careers.
A certificate in accounting prepares learners for an associate or bachelor's degree. Graduates from accredited schools can transfer into an associate in accounting program or bachelor's in accounting program to continue their education.
A bachelor's degree meets the minimum education requirement for higher-paying roles like accountant or auditor. According to BLS data from May 2021, accountants earn a median annual salary of $77,250. Accountants can also pursue voluntary certifications to move into specialized roles.
How Do I Choose an Online Certificate in Accounting Program?
Many students list cost as the most important factor when choosing a program. Fortunately, an online certificate in accounting can be very affordable. Many community colleges offer online certificate programs that take around one year. According to the NCES, students paid an average of $3,377 for one year at a community college in 2019-20.
When researching programs, compare online and on-campus costs while also checking the program's total cost. Total program cost includes expenses such as technology fees, materials, and forgone income.
Colleges offer online certificate programs in several formats. Learners can enroll either full time or part time. Working professionals and busy students may prefer a part-time option. Programs also offer classes both synchronously and asynchronously. These program formats will shape the student's experience while earning a certificate.
Program location is important, even for online learners. For programs with on-campus requirements, attending a school close to you can save you money. Consider the benefits and tradeoffs of local programs –– the nearest program might not offer the most affordable tuition rate, for example.
Independent, non-profit agencies grant accreditation to schools that demonstrate strong student learning outcomes, faculty qualifications, and academic missions. Accredited schools meet high standards for academic excellence, and students at an accredited school also qualify for more types of financial aid.
Colleges and universities should hold institutional accreditation, while accounting certificates may hold programmatic accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) and the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).
The best online colleges provide a range of student services. These services include academic advising, career support, and tutoring. Online learners also benefit from mentorship programs and internship opportunities. Research the school's student support services when choosing a certificate program.
Best Accredited Online Certificate in Accounting Programs
Rankings compiled by the the BestColleges Ranking Team
Is your school on this list? Get the BestColleges ranking seal.
How We Rank Schools
At BestColleges, we believe a college education is one of the most important investments you can make. We want to help you navigate the college selection process by offering transparent, inclusive, and relevant school rankings.
Our rankings are grounded in a few guiding principles and use the latest statistical data available from trusted sources. Read our ranking methodology. We hope our approach helps you find the school that is best for you.
Frequently Asked Questions About Certificate in Accounting Programs
Is a certificate in accounting worth it?
An accounting certificate introduces learners to core accounting principles. An affordable certificate from a community college can help professionals decide whether an accounting career is right for them. Since certificates take less time and cost less than a degree, they're a good option for learners who want to try out a field.
Plus, an accounting certificate can pay off. A certificate leads to opportunities as a bookkeeper, accounting clerk, or auditing clerk. These fields reported a median annual pay of $45,560 in 2021. A certificate from an in-state community college costs around $3,377.
What can you do with a certificate in accounting?
A certificate in accounting provides focused training for careers involving accounting, finance, and money management. The coursework in a certificate leads to opportunities as an accounting clerk, bookkeeper, bank teller, or finance clerk.
Professionals in a wide range of fields benefit from accounting training. Human resources professionals, account collectors, and administrative assistants may all draw on accounting training.
Finally, a certificate prepares graduates for an accounting degree. After earning an accounting certificate, graduates can transfer into a two-year or four-year degree program. With a bachelor's in accounting, for example, professionals work as accountants and auditors.
Is an accounting certificate program hard?
A certificate in accounting requires strong numerical skills and attention to detail. Students learn to analyze financial documents, manage general ledgers, and track financial transactions. Some learners find accounting courses challenging, but high-quality certificate programs offer several support services for students.
For example, distance learners can work with online tutors or meet with academic advisors to discuss challenges. Instructors also work with students to overcome academic roadblocks. Before enrolling in an accounting certificate, consider your strengths and weaknesses. Online programs typically require more self-motivation and organizational skills than on-campus programs.
How long does it take to get a certificate in accounting?
Earning an accounting certificate can take as little as a few months. The shortest certificate programs typically require 12 credits, which full-time students can earn in one term or semester. Many certificates also offer part-time enrollment, which adds time to the program.
Keep in mind that the length of a certificate varies greatly. While many certificate programs require 12-20 credits, some may require 30 or more credits. The number of credits required and the enrollment format will determine the total length of the program.
What's the highest paying job you can get with a certificate in accounting?
The most common career paths with an accounting certificate include bookkeeper and accounting clerk positions. Professionals in these fields reported a median annual salary of $45,560 in 2021. The highest-paid bookkeepers and accounting clerks made around $62,000.
Accounting certificate graduates can increase their earning potential by transferring into a bachelor's program in accounting. A bachelor's degree in accounting qualifies learners for positions as accountants and auditors. Professionals in this field reported a median annual salary of $77,250 in 2021, significantly higher than the highest-paid bookkeepers. The highest-paying accountant jobs paid around $129,000 in 2021.
10 Online Business Certificates to Advance Your Career
Certificates vs. Certifications vs. Licenses
BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.
Compare your school options.
View the most relevant school for your interests and compare them by tuition, programs, acceptance rate, and other factors important to find your college home.